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- ELECTORS OF PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT. $ 5. The States have the choosing of electors of President and Vice-President; but Congress has the power to determine the time when the electors shall be chosen. In 1792, March 1, Congress passed an act requiring that the time for electing electors should be within thirty-four days preceding the first Wednesday in December of each year, when electors were to be appointed. Thus the States had a margin of over thirty days within which to hold their election of electors.
$ 6. But Jan. 23, 1845, Congress passed an act specifying the day on which electors should be elected throughout the United States. That day is the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be chosen.
§ 7. The time when the electors are to give their votes for President and Vice-President shi!l be the same throughout the United States. By act of Congress, that day is the first Wednesday in December after their election. The place is left for the several State legislatures to designate; and they generally direct it to be done at the State capital.
$ 8. The provisions of Congress fixing a day for the election of electors which shall be the same throughout the United States, as well as the day on which the electors shall give their votes, has a tendency to prevent “ bargaining and selling," and the formation of political combinations to defeat the will of the people.
3. - ACTS, RECORDS, JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS.
$ 9. When a judgment is rendered by any State court in proper form from which no appeal has been taken to any higher court within the time allowed for appeals, that judgment is conclusive ever after, between the parties to it, as to the matters in controversy. That judgment will be received in evidence when offered in any other court within the limits of the State within which it was rendered.
§ 10. But, before the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, there was no uniformity of practice in regard to this subject as between the different Colonies, or as between the different States. In the Articles of Confederation, there was a clause on the subject of the
credit to be given by one State to the acts, records, &c., of other States ;
no power was given to Congress to direct as to the method of proof in such cases, and the effect thereof.
§ 11. The power to provide for the manner of proving the acts, records, and judicial proceedings of the several States is vested in Congress, though the faith and credit to be given between State and State is mandatory in the Constitution. Under this power, Congress his passed laws defining the manner in which they shall be authenticated, and the effect to be given to their authenticity.
$ 12. A judgment obtained in a court of competent jurisdiction in one State is valid in every other State in the Union. As between nations foreign to each other, there is no uniform rule on the subject; or, at most, a foreign judgment is only what the law calls primû-facie evidence in the case, not conclusive. In other words, the matter involved is re-examinable.
$ 13. But, while the Constitution in another place requires that full faith and credit shall be given in this matter as between the States, endless embarrassment would ensue but for the exercise of this legislative authority by Congress over the State courts.
§ 14. By act of May 26, 1790, Congress provided the mode by which records and judicial proceedings should be authenticated, and declared that they should have such faith given to them in every court within the United States as they had by law or usage in the courts of the State from whence the records were taken.
4. -- IMPOSTS AND DUTIES.
§ 15. In another place, it will be seen that States are prohibited from laying any imposts or duties on imports or exports without the consent of Congress, except what may be necessary for the execution of their inspection-laws. If States should attempt to lay burden some inspection-duties, Congress has the power to pass acts of revis in, and, in case it becomes necessary, to control the whole subject.
$ 16. The subject of imposts and duties, we have seen, is exclusively under the control of Congress; and, should a State attempt by some indirect method to lay duties or imposts, Congress has the higher right to control and revise its legislation. The State of
Maryland passed a law in 1821, requiring all importers of goods, and other persons selling the same by wholesale, to take out a license costing fifty dollars. This was regarded as an indirect method of laying State duties, and was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States to be unconstitutional.
ART. XII. - EXECUTIVE VACANCY. 1. May by law provide for the case of removal, death, rosigna
tion, or inability both of President and Vice-President 2. May by law declare what officer shall then act as Presi
1st. Such disability be removed ; or,
2d. A President shall be elected. 57. § 1. There was a strong feeling in the Constitutional Convention, during its earlier labors, against the proposition to have a Vice-President of the United States. Until this proposition found favor among the members, the plan was that the President of the Senate should succeed the President of the United States in case of the death, resignation, or inability of the latter to perform the duties of his office. But the Vice-Presidency was finally accepted as a feature of the plan.
§ 2. Congress, in the exercise of its power to provide for the vacancy of the executive chair by the death, removal, or inability of both the President and Vice-President, has enacted that the President pro tempore of the Senate, and, in case there shall be no President of that body, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall act as President until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
ART. XIII. – APPOINTMENTS. May by laro vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they shall think proper,
1. In the President alone;
3. In the heads of departments. 61. § 1. This power of vesting appointments, it will be observed, is restricted to inferior officers. But what are inferior offices or offi
The Constitution does not discriminate. Such as Congress
sees fit to style inferior officers need not the sanction of the Executive or the Senate to render their appointments valid. The heads of departments, it is generally conceded, are not of this class. They have the power over the appointments of the clerks in their respective offices. But there is great danger that a corrupt favoritism may be the result of the abuse of this power.
It has long been used to punish and reward political opinion. To obtain an office, a man's political views must coincide with the appointing power. This is a tlagrant abuse of official authority.
§ 2. The Postmaster-General wields a patronage, the estimate of which is most fearful if dispensed as a political bribe throughout the country. The question is too seldom asked, whether the applicant for a village post-office is honest, capable, and faithful to the Constitution; but, on the contrary, his fitness for office, in thousands of instances, is tested by his fidelity to party. So extensive has been the practice of distributing official favors to political partisans during the last thirty years, that, with rare exceptions, a man's political sentiments could be inferred by the office he held. Public offices ought not to be distributed as rewards for political opinions.
ART. XIV.-CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. 1. Shall propose amendments to the Constitution whenever
two-thirds of both houses of Congress shall deem it
necessary ; or, 2. On application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the sev
eral States, Congress shall call a convention for propos
ing amendments. 3. May prescribe either of two modes of ratifying the pro
1st. By State conventions ; or,
2d. By the State legislatures. 78. $1. Congress has no power to alter or amend the Constitution ; but they can take the initiatory steps. They can submit propositions to the States for this purpose, whenever, in the estimation of two-thirds of the members of both houses, amendments become necessary.
§ 2. No human government can be perfect ; and the Constitution
of the United States was but an experiment, which, in its original forin, might not prove successful. It was wise, therefore, to make provisions in the instrument itself for its amendment. A Constitution suited to the necessities of this generation may not be adapted to the wants of the next. But it was well to guard against the hasty adoption of amendments, without allowing sufficient experience under the original instrument to test the utility of its provisions. The powers of Congress over this subject are quite limited. The prop osition for amendments may originate with Congress, or with the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States. When it originates with the States, instead of amendments being proposed by Congress, that body calls a convention to propose them.
§ 3. Congress has the power of directing whether the proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be ratified by State conventions or by State legislatures. Thus far, there have been adopted fourteen Articles of Amendment. These have all originated with Congress, and have been ratified by State legislatures. There is one clause of the Constitution unamendable except by the consent of the State interested, which reads thus : “ No State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” This is for the protection of the smaller States in the national councils.
As Congress takes no part in the ratification of proposed amend ments, that subject belongs in another place. (See Chap. IX., Art. I., Part II.)
ART. XV. - SLAVERY.
1. Shall have power to enforce the abolition of slavery by ap
propriate legislation. 98. 2. While the foreign slave-trade was lawful (until 1808), Con
gress had the power to impose a tax or duty, not exceed. ing ten dollars, on each slave imported. 44.
1.- ITS ABOLITION.
§ 1. The Constitution as it came from the hands of its authors in 1787, and as it was ratified by the people of the several States, rec: ognized slavery as a State institution. True, the word “slave," or